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The Benefits of Breastfeeding

UAB Women and Infants Services encourages new moms to provide breast milk for their newborns. This advice follows recommendations by the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

The general guidance below outlines the many benefits that breastfeeding provides your baby and you. If you are concerned about how to care for yourself or your baby, or concerned about your health or your baby’s, contact your physician.

Breastfeeding is a choice.

The benefits your baby and you receive from breastfeeding relate to what percent of your baby’s feedings is breast milk. Both formula and mother’s milk offer nourishment, but only mother’s milk works like a medicine to provide you and your baby with the best health outcomes.

Your breast milk is more than food for your baby.

Breast milk gives your infant the ideal balance of nutrients and infection-fighting antibodies. Your milk contains live cells and other growth factors that help promote the best possible development.

Breast milk helps activate and develop your baby’s immune system.

That can translate to fewer and less severe respiratory, urinary, ear, and other infections. It also makes your baby less likely to have childhood cancer, asthma, allergies, obesity, diabetes, eczema, and chronic bowel disease.

Breast milk is adaptable.

Breast milk changes to adapt to babies’ needs as they grow. Your readily digestible milk and its nutrients help your baby avoid digestive problems. That means less diarrhea, constipation, and spitting up.

Breastfeeding also provides benefits for moms.

In most cases, breastfeeding is a less expensive and more convenient way to feed your baby. You also may experience less missed time at work and fewer doctor visits. Breastfeeding can help you lose weight gained in pregnancy, and it may decrease your risk for osteoporosis, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. It can even decrease your risk of postpartum depression.

Breastfeeding is part of your relationship with your baby.

Talking, cuddling, and touching stimulate your baby’s senses when you hold him or her. It also provides a sense of security and strengthens the bond between mother and child, now and into the future. Also, breastfeeding hormones can create a sense of calm and deeper connection with your baby.

Resources at UAB Medicine

Lactation consultants are health care professionals with special training and experience in helping breastfeeding mothers and babies. UAB Women and Infants Services’ board-certified lactation consultants can meet with you before and after the birth of your baby to provide any support you may need. To reach a UAB Medicine certified lactation consultant, please call 205-975-8334.